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How and what to watch for No. 16 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Iowa

Iowa is out to prove it is worth the raised expectations, while North Carolina is hoping to prove last season was a fluke.

Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza goes to the basket against the Western Illinois Leathernecks during the second half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 16 North Carolina Tar Heels will travel to play the third-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in the first day of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night in what should be among the most exciting games of the event.

With raised expectations in the program, Iowa has done what it should be doing against significantly lesser programs through three games. The Hawkeyes made for some unenjoyable moments for their opponents NC Central, Southern and Western Illinois as they won each of their first three games by 30 or more points. Senior big man Luka Garza has been the fantastic early on, averaging 34 points per game, shooting field goals at 76% with 9.7 rebounds per game. He’s going to be a handful for every team on Iowa’s schedule this season.

As for North Carolina, they’re looking to bounce back from what was a year-long struggle last season. But the Tar Heels are looking a whole lot better, starting the season 3-0 with two convincing wins over Charleston and UNLV, plus a four-point victory over Stanford. The Tar Heels are coming off a loss to Texas last week 69-67 in their final game of the Maui Invitational.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch North Carolina vs. Iowa on Tuesday, December 8th at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, or you can watch via WatchESPN with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: North Carolina vs. Iowa (-3)
Point Total: 157.5
Money line: North Carolina (+133) vs. Iowa (-159)

  • The point total went under in each of North Carolina’s last six games, while Iowa hit the over in five straight.
  • North Carolina is 7-3 straight up in its last 10 games, and Iowa is 6-4 in its last 10.
  • Iowa is 7-2 against the spread in its last nine games, and North Carolina is 5-3-1 in that span.

Betting Splits Against Spread

North Carolina: (13% of action, 20% of bets)
Iowa: (87% of action, 80% of bets)

The Best Bet

I think this game gets played at Iowa’s pace, and while the Hawkeyes are about as good as it gets offensively, let’s not forget they ranked No. 224 in defensive efficiency last season. We have no evidence to show that’s been fixed despite three blowout wins against not-so-good competition to start out this year. There will be a ton of possessions throughout this game with teams going back and forth. Let’s take the over and root for points.

Pick: Over 157.5

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